Sunday, October 03, 2010

A Fall Cruise with Friends

Almost a year ago our long-time friends Diana and Kevan Turner asked if we would go with them on a cruise to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Last week we traveled together to south Florida first for a day of fun in the Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton area enjoying a nature center, the beach, and a great time together. Then it was off for 5 days on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas to Key West, Cozumel, and Cococay island (or so we thought). The ship and stops were terrific with so much to see and do that we really didn’t get much rest.

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The stop in Key West, FL was too short (just 6 hours) but we squeezed in quite a bit of sight-seeing first on the City View tour trolley and then on foot. The tour dropped us off right across from a Key Lime shop, so of course Kitty talked us all into Key Lime pie at 11am. Greg’s highlight was buying a shirt after the employees in the tourist store demonstrated that it is completely waterproof - by pouring a Coke all over it! Sure enough, the Coke ran right off the shirt and all over the shop floor. After a demonstration like that how could we not buy it?

For our day in Cozumel we decided to just walk and shop and see what we would see. When a local guide pointed us to an area a couple of blocks off the main tourist path we came across some wonderful shops for local souvenirs (which we bought) and just some great local scenery. From an old church decorated for a festival (maybe a wedding?) to a beautiful and charming upper-level restaurant where we stopped for a bite to eat. As it turned out we had the place to ourselves and sat at a corner table with the large windows open, offering a wonderful view of the city activities. Our light lunch also became more than we expected as the owner brought large portions of soups, salads, entrees, and of course, chips and guacamole.

During a day at sea we started getting our expectations up for our stop at the private island of Cococay. We had been there once before several years ago and remember the beaches, the hammocks under the coconut trees, the snorkeling, and the large blue iguanas. Cococay was one of the reasons we had picked this particular cruise. But when you go to the Caribbean in the Fall you always have to be mindful of the weather. There had been two hurricanes just east of Florida the week before our vacation and a tropical storm in the western Gulf of Mexico. Now Tropical Storm Nicole popped up over Cuba and was headed towards the Bahamas including the little island of Cococay. So the captain made for safe harbor in Nassau instead, and we enjoyed a day being battered by wind, running between rain showers, and just having a lot of fun with a crazy cab ride, exploring the Atlantis Resort, sharing a Bahamian lunch at a street-side cafe, and trying to work our way through the straw market without spending all of our remaining money.

Back in Florida, we spent one more day together in the South Beach area of Miami that included sun on the beach and a dip in the ocean where we were “attacked” by a very large tarpon or snook. This 5-foot or larger fish was actually after some of the small fish swimming in the shallows, but it drew quite a crowd along the beach and several shrieks from the ladies until they were sure it wasn’t after them!

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Finally, we said goodbye to the Turners as they headed home to St. Louis and we drove to Tampa to spend a few days with Kristy, Cameron, Ruth, Joseph, and Rebecca. What a fun, exciting, blessed week - all made better by sharing it with good friends!

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